ST. PETERSBURG — Investigators believe a duplex that caught fire early Wednesday was intentionally set ablaze.
Although no one lived in the house at 4737 Haines Road, there were likely squatters staying in the structure, as evidenced by food and other items found inside, said St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue spokesman Lt. Joel Granata.
No one was there when the fire broke out around 6 a.m.
It took 20 minutes for firefighters to contain the flames, which had engulfed the bedroom by the time fire crews had arrived.
Initially, responders thought the squatters may have accidentally started the fire, but upon further investigation, officials said it was arson.
"Sometimes squatters leave things like discarded cigarettes or candles lying around that will cause a fire to start," Granata said. "But we didn't find anything like that."
The investigation is ongoing.